Keratoconus is a condition where the clear part of the eye or cornea thins and bulges outward. People with keratoconus experience blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light and glare. It was discovered by researchers that people with keratoconus are more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) 10 to 20 times than those people without keratoconus.
In the April 2018 journal Cornea, a study was published about 50 patients with keratoconus where 17 are women and 33 are men. Researchers have found that 19 of them which consist of 6 women and 13 men experienced obstructed breathing events per hour while sleeping. They have pauses in breathing that last at least 10 seconds, these events are a hallmark of OSA.
Patients with keratoconus that have OSA are older than those who did not have this breathing problem. Their age is closer to 50 rather than 39 years old. They also have wider necks, higher body mass index, and a high degree of astigmatism than the people without the sleep disorder. People who are overweight and have a wide neck are risk factors for OSA. It is common for males to have a higher risk for OSA than females.
According to J. Kevin McKinney, a comprehensive ophthalmologist in Oregon, there is no clear relationship between sleep apnea and keratoconus but the association has been found in different research studies. Dr. McKinnery is not involved in the study but he thinks that it may be a clue about the general health of the body. People with keratoconus do not have to worry. There are now available treatments for keratoconus.
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Many people are not aware of how sleep apnea is a serious condition. If sleep apnea is left untreated, serious and life-shortening consequences may occur. Sleep apnea contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, mood swings, and memory problems. Sleep apnea causes your breathing to be interrupted during sleep which makes it a dangerous sleep disorder.
What Should I Do if I Have Keratoconus and Sleep Apnea?
If you are one of the people who have keratoconus, it is important for you to discuss your sleep apnea condition with a primary care doctor. Do not forget to mention if you are often sleepy during the day. Be sure to ask your sleeping partner if you snore at night because it provides important information to your doctor. You may be referred to a sleep specialist to determine if sleep apnea is affecting you from getting a good rest at night.